I’ve been chatting to morning commuters at Grays station in the Essex Thames-side marginal of Thurrock this morning.

08 dartford blog Tories to tone down skiver attacks

You get some people spontaneously repeating George Osborne’s old line about resenting the blinds being down in the unemployed neighbour’s house as they get up for work in the morning, but those voices are often already committed Tories. What strikes you is that opinion is a little more fluid and volatile than you might predict. And that’s the conclusion the Tory high command has come to as well.

In discussions ahead of today’s vote on the benefits cap they’ve decided to tone down the language on skivers versus strivers. They think they risk turning what they remain convinced could be an “electoral game-changer,” as one aide to David Cameron called it, into a millstone if they get the language too strident and play into the old Tory image of “the nasty party.” So the top team, including George Osborne (who’d probably used the language more than anyone), is changing the tone – well, that’s the agreed plan anyway.

The Tories’ newly hired 4 days-a- month strategic consultant, Lynton Crosby, emailed in matching advice from Australia, suggesting that the Tories needed to be seen to be acting like a government not an opposition.

Follow Gary Gibbon on Twitter